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Photo: Hector Sanchez Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas  

Your sprout game has never been so strong.

Sara Tane
October 23, 2017

I’m just going to throw this out there—I freaking love Brussels sprouts. However, as a young child, this was not the case. Not because I was a monstrous picky eater that avoided anything healthy and green at all costs, but because my parents served them at dinner steamed.* I know, the horror! I love my parents very much, and they have given me the world, but one lesson that I had to learn on my own is that Brussels sprouts are actually delicious if you roast or pan-fry them. That said, there’s one extra step you can take when you’re cooking your sprouts in this way that will make them absolutely #next #level.

Just to go over the basics of general best practices for Brussels sprouts cookery,** let’s aim to stick to the fresh sprouts, versus frozen (although desperate times call for desperate measures). Also, it’s probably no secret that you’ll need a cooking fat for these cruciferous beauties to soak up. A knob of melted butter works just fine if you’re pan-frying, or a glug of extra-virgin olive oil tossed with the sprouts on a sheet pan does the trick just the same. And of course, generous salt- and pepper-ing because flavor is the name of the game here.

Watch Now: How to Make Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Garlic, and Shallots

 

All that said, the key to optimal Brussels sprouts is how you are prepping them on the cutting board. You’re likely already trimming the stems and halving them for that picture-perfect interior slice that’s sure to become golden brown (it’s called Instagram, have you heard of it?). However, don’t stop there. Take both halves and using your fingers, peel back a couple layers of the outermost leaves. There’s no need to peel to the core of the sprout (you will assuredly go insane), but by physically loosening and detaching a substantial amount of outer leaves, you’re ensuring that your final product is going to be ultra frizzly and crispy. If all the leaves are left suctioned to the center of the sprout, there’s way less opportunity for those crunchy, leafy Brussels chips that we all know are the best part. Sure, it’s going to take a couple extra minutes of prep, but there’s no doubt that it’s worth it.

One thing to keep in mind when you are prepping your Brussels sprouts in this clever way is that they’re way more prone to burn, so be sure to keep a close eye on your cook time. The last thing you want is those perfectly salty and crispy leaves to surpass the optimal, crackly texture and head straight into an irreversible burnt char. At that point, you might as well steam them in the microwave and call it a day.

*I still have vivid memories of feeling existential dread as I watched them peel back the plastic wrap as the steam quickly escaped from the microwave-safe bowl of sprouts.

**If this was a course that was offered at any university, I would most definitely be the professor of it.

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